I’ve been off of work for close to two weeks now for the holidays, and it’s been pretty great. I’ve definitely done my share of watching bad TV and doing crossword puzzles and Wordle/Quordle/Nerdle/Hurdle/Mathler on my phone. I’ve met friends for drinks and spent time with my family. 

But it’s also been satisfyingly productive.

I’ve baked gingerbread cake and jalapeno-cheddar bread. I’ve taken the dogs on so many walks and caught up on their vet appointments. I’ve cooked a lot with my husband, including some meal prep for once we are all back into our crazy-busy routine.

But mostly, I’ve been doing some very much-needed and overdue cleaning. 

When we all went home in March 2020, I recall thinking, with absolute certainty, “Man, my house is about to be so clean!” Surely with so much down time, I’d be able to scrub my baseboards and organize all the closets.

I even wrote down a cleaning schedule that laid out certain tasks for certain days – not realizing, of course, that after a couple months of isolation, all the days would blend together. Or that between trying to work from home and “home-school” two kids while also taking care of my dad, who got drastically ill with double pneumonia not even two weeks into the shutdown, that my house would actually never be messier

I tried to stay on top of things, and for a while, it didn’t get better but it also didn’t really get all that much worse. But then midway through 2021, my mom died suddenly, which meant two things: A.) bringing a bunch of her stuff into my house, where I was basically unable to do much of anything with it because of B.) crushing grief and depression. 

Over the past 18+ months, though, the fog of mourning has lifted … but we’ve been too busy getting back to normal life – work, school, soccer practice, play rehearsal, birthday parties – to have the time to set things back to how they should be. 

It was so bad that in early December, I thanked my husband for bringing all of the Christmas stuff down from the attic without my even asking … and he gently reminded me that he hadn’t brought it down; it was that we never even brought it back up last year. I had boxes of Christmas stuff sitting in my dining room for 11 months without even noticing

With the holiday break, though, I finally was able to dig in and sort out all of the clutter in various rooms of the house. I dropped multiple bags of outgrown clothes and toys that have fallen out of favor off at Goodwill. I threw away broken toys and mismatched socks and puzzles without all the pieces. I did – not even joking – about 37 loads of laundry. I rearranged my living room and re-organized the storage under the seats in the breakfast nook. 

My house still doesn’t look like anything out of a magazine, but it now looks more like the “after” from an episode of Hoarders and not so much the “before.”

I don’t really make new year’s resolutions … but if I have one this year, it’s to try to keep my house from getting so cluttered again. 

And hey, barring an unprecedented health crisis and international quarantine, I just might be able to do it this time!